Maternal and Child Health

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The First Bond

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Times of India
12 November 2010
By Zeenia F Baria

Experts speak to PT about the benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding promotes emotional bonding between you and your little one A SPECIAL TIME: Breastfeeding promotes emotional bonding between you and your little one
THE first hours after birth are most important says gynaecologist Dr Anita Soni. And breast feeding should start within two hours of birth – as soon as the mother is comfortable to feed the child. "One breast should be offered to the baby at one time rather than switching from one breast to the other at the same feeding session. This ensures the baby gets the hind milk, which is rich in fats. Your baby may take 80 per cent of the feed in the first 10 minutes and then suckle for satisfaction. Babies should be fed on demand.

During the early days, you may feed every two to three hours. This changes as the baby grows. Every feed duration may vary from 10 to 40 minutes. Exclusive breast feeding is advised for a period of minimum six months. With other foods the mother can continue feeding till the baby is two," says Dr Soni.

Gynaecologist Dr Suman Bijlani says that are no special preparations required to prepare yourself for breastfeeding. "No massaging of breasts or nipple stretching exercises are needed during pregnancy. Be ready with nursing bras, breast pads and pumps. Get correct information regarding breastfeeding from your doctor or you could even attend antenatal lactation sessions," says Dr Bijlani.

  • It is the simplest and most economical way to feed your baby and contains the right mix of proteins, fats, sugars, water, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antibodies for your baby.
  • It boosts your baby’s immunity and protects it from diarrhoea, respiratory and ear infections.
  • Breastfed babies show a lower incidence of diabetes, obesity and allergic conditions as well as better cognitive development (learning skills and information processing).
  • It provides an effective birth control technique. If you are less than six months post delivery, are exclusively breastfeeding your baby (no top feeds including water) and haven’t yet got your period, you are 98 per cent protected from pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding promotes emotional bonding between you and your little one. It creates an environment closest to the womb, which comforts the baby and makes them feel secure.
Common problems
Engorgement– When excess milk gets accumulated in the breasts, they become painful and swollen. Sore or cracked nipples– Nipples develop cracks or fissures, which are painful and feeding becomes a pain. Mastitis– This is an infected collection of milk in the breast. If not taken care of, it could form an abscess.

Low milk supply– Almost all women can produce adequate milk, but loss of confidence, depression, low levels of thyroid hormone or repeated episodes of engorgements can bring down the milk supply.

Baby refuses– A baby can refuse to latch on to the breast if the mother has low milk supply or even when the milk flow is too fast, thereby choking the baby. Lactation Consultant Dr Preeti Ganghan says that learning the right positioning and latching (the way the baby holds the nipple and breast in his mouth) is very important.

"If you want to store breast milk, it can be extracted either manually or using a breast pump and can be stored in special breast milk storage bags or in small glass bottles in small portions of about four ounces. Always label the bottle with the date and time of collection. Breast milk can stay at room temperature for about four to six hours, stored in the refrigerator for two to three days and in the freezer for 15 days. When you remove it from the refrigerator, let it thaw naturally – do not heat it," says Dr Ganghan.

Useful tips
  • Both mother and baby should be in a comfortable position – the baby’s body and neck should be in a straight line. Hold the baby’s body close to you and at the right angle.
  • Bring the baby to the breast and not the breast to the baby.
  • Always keep the breast as empty as possible, either by frequent feeding or by pumping out the milk. This helps maintain the milk flow and prevents problems like engorgement or lumps in the breast.

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